Sunday, May 15, 2011

Friday the 13th

Friday the 13th; Horror, USA, 1980; D: Sean S. Cunningham, S: Adrienne King, Harry Crosby, Betsy Palmer, Laurie Bartram, Kevin Bacon

Two teenagers are killed by an unknown murderer at Camp Crystal Lake. Some 20 years later, the camp is re-opened and attracts teenagers again. One of them, Annie, is warned by the locals that the camp is cursed. Later, somebody kills her in the forest. During one rainy night, the murderer kills several teenagers there, leaving only the deputy supervisor Alice. She finds out that the killer is actually Mrs. Pamela Voorhees because she wants to take revenge for her son Jason who drowned over 20 years ago in the lake. Still, Alice kills her and survives.

Already in the opening sequence, where the camera takes on the killer's POV while he is climbing up the stairs and stabs two teenagers in a cottage, does "Friday the 13th" show that is steals too much from Carpenter's "Halloween", indicating rightfully that it was and still is just a primitive 'slasher horror' copycat designed to please viewers bored with their lives and eager for some suspense. There is suspense to be found here, however the director uses it only in a cheap and banal way. The characters are so underwritten and bland that it is actually difficult to distinguish them (even Kevin Bacon barely 'stands out') whereas the only two memorable moments in an otherwise grey story are the strip monopoly and the surprising revelation of the killer's identity. On the DVD extras, the director at least openly admitted that his only motivation for this film was to make a commercial film in order to feed his family. "Friday the 13th" was indeed successful and spanned 9 sequels, a crossover and a reboot, yet by all other criteria it seems it was really 'branded' by that unlucky number 13.


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